Courts should stay within their domain while ruling on laws

The Court did make its position amply clear during the hearing, with the Chief Justice of India, S.A. Bobde, faulting the Centre for its failure to break the deadlock arising out of the weeks-long protest by thousands of farmers in the vicinity of Delhi, demanding nothing short of an outright repeal of the laws. It is only in the wake of the government’s perceived failure that the Court has chosen to intervene, but it is unfortunate that it is not in the form of adjudicating key questions such as the constitutionality of the laws, but by handing over the role of thrashing out the issues involved to a four-member panel. It is not clear how the four members on the committee were chosen, and there is already some well-founded criticism that some of them have already voiced their support for the farm laws in question. The Court wants the panel to give its recommendations on hearing the views of all stakeholders. Here, the exercise could turn tricky. How will the Court deal with a possible recommendation that the laws be amended? It would be strange and even questionable if the Court directed Parliament to bring the laws in line with the committee’s views. While a negotiated settlement is always preferable, it is equally important that judicial power is not seen as being used to dilute the import of the protest or de-legitimise farmer unions that stay away from the proceedings of the panel or interfere with the powers of Parliament to legislate.

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